Davos 2023: Greta Thunberg accuses energy companies of throwing people ‘under the bus’

Davos 2023: Greta Thunberg accuses energy companies of throwing people 'under the bus'
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DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Greta Thunberg called on the global energy industry and its financiers on Thursday to end all investments in fossil fuels at a high-profile meeting in Davos with the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

During a panel discussion with Fatih Birol on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, activists said they had submitted a “cease and desist” letter to CEOs calling for a halt to the extraction of oil, gas and coal.

“As long as they can get away with it, they will continue to invest in fossil fuels, they will continue to throw people under the bus,” Thunberg warned.

The oil and gas industry, which has been accused by activists of hijacking the climate change debate at the Swiss ski resort, has said it must be part of the energy transition as fossil fuels will continue to play a significant role. in the energy mix. as the world shifts to a low carbon economy.

Thunberg, who was detained by police in Germany earlier this week during a demonstration at a coal mine, joined activists Helena Gualinga from Ecuador, Vanessa Nakate from Uganda and Luisa Neubauer from Germany to discuss how to tackle the big issues. with Birol.

Birol, whose agency makes policy recommendations on energy, thanked activists for meeting him but insisted the transition had to include a mix of stakeholders, especially in the face of the global energy security crisis.

The IEA chief, who met some of the biggest names in the oil and gas industry in Davos on Thursday, said there was no reason to justify investments in new oil fields due to energy shortages, saying that by the time these came online, the climate crisis would be worse.

He also said he was less pessimistic than climate activists about the switch to clean energy.

“We can have some legitimate mild optimism,” he said, adding: “Last year, the amount of renewables coming to market was record high.”

But he conceded that the transition was not happening fast enough and warned that emerging and developing countries risked being left behind if advanced economies did not support the transition.

Young climate activist Greta Thunberg participates in a discussion on “Treat the climate crisis as a crisis” with the director of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol (not pictured), on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on January 19. , 2023. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann


The United Nations climate conference, held in Egypt last year, established a loss and damage fund to compensate countries most affected by climate change events.

Nakate, who held a lone protest outside Uganda’s parliament for several months in 2019, said the fund “is still an empty bucket with no money.”

“There is a need for real money for losses and damages.”

In 2019, Thunberg, then 16, took part in the WEF’s main meeting, telling leaders that “our house is on fire.” He returned to Davos the following year.

But she declined to participate as an official delegate this year when the event returned to its regular January schedule.

Asked why she didn’t want to advocate for change from within, Thunberg said there were already activists doing so.

“I think they should be people on the front lines and not privileged people like me,” he said. “I don’t think the changes we need are coming from within. They are more likely to come from the bottom up.”

Later, the activists walked together through the snowy streets of Davos, where many of the shops have been temporarily turned into “pavilions” sponsored by companies or countries.

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Written by Leela de Kretser; Edited by Alexander Smith

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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